Pol Espargaro and KTM continued to close the gap to the leaders at the Catalan Grand Prix with a strong seventh place finish.
Espargaro finished 16 seconds behind race winner, Marc Marquez. This compares to the 36-second gap to the winner in last season’s race. This is Espargaro’s third consecutive top 10 result.
The Spaniard started the race in 12th after making it to Qualifying 2. After making a safe start to the race, Espargaro benefited from the controversial incident involving Jorge Lorenzo and three other contenders.
He became involved in a fight for seventh with Takaaki Nakagami. After a hard-fought battle, the KTM rider eventually came out on top.
Speaking after the race, Espargaro said:
“I’m really happy. I said on Saturday that the race would either be very slow or with lots of crashes and it was both! Today was really important to anticipate the braking, and not hit the limit with the brake or the throttle. It was very difficult. It was matter of being so precise, like a watch, and trying to do everything in the same place and with a lot of electronics.
“In the end the most important thing was the gap of sixteen seconds to the top guy – which is unbelievable because last year we were thirty-six away. We are ninth in the championship and six points from sixth. I’m impressed about the performance we made today.”
Espargaro now sits ninth in the championship standings, only six points away from the top six riders. Team manager, Mike Leitner, added:
“Finally we are very happy with the result we achieved because Barcelona has been one of our most difficult race tracks in the last two years – along with Mugello – and we made reasonable results at both places. We knew it would be very difficult here because the grip level was tough for all the riders.”
He and the KTM team return to the circuit tomorrow for the one-day test. Round eight of the season is at Assen on 28-30 June 2019.